Fairfield agrees to Johnson & Johnson opioid settlement terms

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Local governments have signed up for part of a $21 billion nationwide settlement with three pharmaceutical distributors blamed for contributing to the country’s

The city came to terms in August with country’s three largest opioid distributors

Fairfield City Council signed off this week, for the second time this year, on an opioid class-action settlement agreement.

On Monday, Council accepted the settlement agreement with Janssen/Johnson & Johnson, and Fairfield could receive between $94,192 and $134,560 over the course of nine years. The amount is dependant on the participation level, which Wolterman said the more that participate the more the city would receive, said Fairfield Law Director Steve Wolterman.

ExploreButler County jurisdictions settle more opioid lawsuits

In August, the city accepted the settlement with AmerisourceBergen, CardinalHealth and McKesson ― the three largest opioid manufacturers ― and that settlement, paid out over 18 years, ranges between $408,038 and $582,912.

The city joined the class action suit in 2019 with around 4,000 local governments and municipalities nationwide where they allege that manufacturers of prescription opioids “grossly misrepresented” the risks of long-term use of the prescribed drugs for people with chronic pain. The December 2017-filed suit also claims distributors “failed to properly monitor suspicious orders” of prescriptions which the plaintiffs claim contributed to the opioid epidemic.

According to the proposed settlement terms, AmerisourceBergen, CardinalHealth and McKesson will pay a maximum of $21 billion nationwide over 18 years and were to make initial deposits into escrow this past September. The additional despots are to be made by this summer.

Johnson & Johnson will pay a maximum of $5 billion nationwide over nine years, according to the proposed settlement terms, and make deposits into the same escrow account by this coming summer. Most of the money must be deposited within three years of acceptance.

The proposed settlement terms also specify that funds can begin to flow to states and local governments as early as April if they meet certain requirements.

“It depends on the participation level,” Wolterman said on how much Fairfield could receive. The fewer governments participating, the less money the plaintiffs of the class action will receive. The higher level of funds would be with 100% participation.

Wolterman said the money will be restricted to abate and prevent the impact of the opioid epidemic.

Millions more will be made available to the state and participating local governments as the lion’s share of the settlement money will be funneled to regional distribution groups.

Finance Director Jacob Burton said once they know when the money will be received, it will be up to City Council “to determine how we’ll handle it, how we’ll spend it.”

The opioid epidemic is still a growing problem despite the COVID-19 pandemic overshadowing the crisis.

In Fairfield alone, the Butler County Coroner’s Office reported all but one overdose deaths (39 of 40) since 2019 and through Oct. 31 involved fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that was once mixed with heroin but is not the predominant opioid in overdose deaths.

Countywide, the coroner’s office reports that fentanyl “has been by far” the most commonly seen substance. Since the start of the year through Monday, fentanyl had been detected in 84% of the coroner’s office’s fatal overdoses.


OHIO AG SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

In July, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced the terms of the class-action lawsuit involving distributors AmerisourceBergen, CardinalHealth and McKesson, and Johnson & Johnson.

Overview of the settlement funding

  • The three distributors collectively will pay up to $21 billion over 18 years.
  • Johnson & Johnson will pay up to $5 billion over nine years with up to $3.7 billion paid during the first three years.
  • The total funding distributed will be determined by the overall participation of both litigating and non-litigating state and local governments.
  • The substantial portion of the money must be spent on opioid treatment and prevention.
  • Each state’s share of the funding has been determined by agreement among the states using a formula that takes into account the impact of the crisis on the state – the number of overdose deaths, the number of residents with substance use disorder, and the number of opioids prescribed – and the population of the state.

Overview of the injunctive relief

The 10-year agreement will result in court orders requiring Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen to:

  • Establish a centralized independent clearinghouse to provide all three distributors and state regulators with aggregated data and analytics about where drugs are going and how often, eliminating blind spots in the current systems used by distributors.
  • Use data-driven systems to detect suspicious opioid orders from customer pharmacies.
  • Terminate customer pharmacies’ ability to receive shipments, and report those companies to state regulators when they show certain signs of diversion.
  • Prohibit shipping of suspicious opioid orders and report such suspicious orders.
  • Prohibit sales staff from influencing decisions related to identifying suspicious opioid orders.

The 10-year agreement will result in court orders requiring Johnson & Johnson to:

  • Stop selling opioids.
  • Not fund or provide grants to third parties for promoting opioids.
  • Not lobby on activities related to opioids.
  • Share clinical trial data under the Yale University Open Data Access Project.

Source: Ohio Attorney General’s Office

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